Medicaid Expansion Impact

One-half million denied health coverage

Occupy Wall Street supporters march callThe North Carolina General Assembly refused to accept federal money which would have provided health care coverage through Medicaid to those who otherwise have no way of obtaining coverage.

The coverage would have been available to people whose income is 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level or less.  Using that measure, The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 319,000 adult North Carolinians would have received coverage through the Medicaid expansion; The North Carolina Institute of Medicine places the total at 500,000!

Today, 24 percent of the state’s adults are uninsured making it one of the highest rates in the nation.

Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, accepting the Medicaid expansion would have translated into 69 percent of the state’s uninsured having a path to coverage; as long as the state refuses the federal funding, only 38 percent are gaining healthcare insurance.

The NC Institute of Medicine reports that as of Jan. 1, 2014, North Carolina is losing out on almost $5 million a day by not accepting the Medicaid dollars.

Fiscal Research staff for the General Assembly has presented data showing that the state per capita spending on Medicaid has declined by more than 11% since 2008 – one of the best cost controls in the country. During the same time period, national per capita spending rose by 6 percent.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that North Carolina has the lowest overall growth in Medicaid costs of any state in the nation even with the economic downturn and the increasing amount of poverty.

Belhaven hospital fell victim

Because the Affordable Care Act included the expansion of Medicaid to close the gap in insurance coverage, payments to hospitals to help defray the cost of indigent care ceased. Almost immediately after the state refused the Medicaid, a rural hospital in Belhaven closed because it said they couldn’t absorb the cost of providing healthcare to the poor. Within a week of the closure, a woman died on the way to a hospital 75 miles away.

Cruel blow to NC veterans

Approximately 5 percent of veterans would have received Medicaid if the state had not declined the funds – that is about 36,800 veterans who are without health care because of the state’s refusal to accept what is life-saving money.  University of North Carolina Population Center estimates that more than 736,000 veterans live in North Carolina. The majority of veterans are 45 or older: 41 percent are ages 45-64 and 38 percent are 65 or older..